A hot-shooting UP-QRS/Jam Liner side came to play in the second half and beat the AMA University, 100-84, Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
UP overcame a big first half from AMA’s Jam Jamito, using a 57-39 second half to secure a twice-to-beat advantage entering the quarter-finals.
UP tied Tanduay with a 5-3 record to end the elimination round, and since the squad had defeated the Rhum Masters earlier in the tournament, UP will hold the tiebreaker.
The Titans (2-6) led by as many as eight points in the first half, with Jamito pouring in 19 points. UP, however, outscored AMA in the third quarter, 25-18, with 12 points from Raul Soyud. The impressive showing in the quarter paved the way for UP to take charge in the final period.
A three by Paul Desiderio, followed by back-to-back baskets by Alfred Batino, opened a double-digit lead for UP, 78-68 early in the fourth quarter.
Later on, Kevin Ferrer knocked down two consecutive treys to keep the Maroons in command of the match, 89-79, with under five minutes remaining.
UP head coach Bert Dela Rosa noted that his team is beginning to show better chemistry on the floor, which will be critical entering the playoffs. But he also wants the team to improve their defensive effort, as Dela Rosa is not yet satisfied overall.
“Nagge-gel na. Nagkakakumpiyansa na sila. Pero kailangan pa namin ng defense. Medyo kulang pa. Wala pa,” he said.
UP will again face Tanduay in the playoffs. The Rhum Masters have been red-hot so far, winning five straight games, but Dela Rosa believes his crew has what it takes to advance.
“Tingin ko mas kaya namin, andyan yung kumpiyansa ng mga players,” he added.
Soyud scored 25 points on 11-for-13 shooting and hauled down 19 rebounds. Raymond Aguilar also finished with a double-double for UP with 18 points and 10 boards, while Ferrer and Dave Moralde each contributed 14 points.
UP shot 55 percent overall from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.
Jamito led AMA with 24 points, but only shot 2-for-7 from the field in the second half. RaShawn McCarthy added a triple-double with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.
UP-QRS/Jam Liner (100) – Soyud 25, Aguilar 18, Ferrer 14, Moralde 14, Alolino 7, Batino 6, Dario 4, Desiderio 4, Neypes 4, Baloria 2, Lim 2.
AMA (84) – Jamito 24, McCarthy 17, King 15, Ambuludto 11, De Leon 6, Tampus 6, Arambulo 4, Jordan 1.
Quarterscores: 25-19, 45-44, 69-63, 100-84.